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This was a much delayed spring cleaning and maintenance trip to my favorite hot spring. Delayed mostly because I was doing trailwork in Ventana instead (Los Padres National Forest).
The weather forecasts were pretty steady on not unusual early summer weather... Sunny and warm if not actually hot, some breeze, and a chnace of afternoon thundershowers. Plan was to pick up the rental when they opened, drive up and soak and do what needed doing at the spring, car camp there, finish up and return Monday afternoon.
I made a somewhat later than planned start, as the computer was down at the rental agency and much confusion reigned. got out of the City about 730am, made it to the hot spring by 1255pm, not bad considering the 15 minute stop at Home Depot to pick up cement. No problems on the roads, traffic was mostly light and not excessively stupid.
Coming back, I made a number of stops, and generally didn't push quite as hard, traffic was light, with some exceptional stupidity. Hitting the Bay Area at the end of rush hour lead to some delays, the metering lights were on at teh Toll Plaza, although, amusingly, the green light was stuck on above my lane...however, sheep we are, we all properly took our turns each time the red light went dark.
Dug out the drain, hauled the mud and sand up to the source to reinforce the dam and continue mitigating the cow caused mud moat surrounding it. Removed a fire ring placed a yard from the tub on the grass. Fixed the pipe. Shifted soil/sand around to fill in eroded spots or build up areas near the surround. Patched some concrete in the surround and added a few rocks to retaining walls. General cleanup around the tub, although someone else has been scrubbing it.
Building a fire ring right next to the tub. Argh! On the grass, not the sandy area. Double argh! Burning old packing crates in the fire, so there are rusty nails and staples spread around the fire ring. Triple ARGH!! Also, why do people steal worthless-but-useful-at-the-tub things like scrub brushes and tub accoutrements like PVC plugs and tennis balls that improve the tub experience.
Everything else was pretty much normal carelessness and wear-and-tear. Enough casual trash picking has happened that I only collected about one grocery bag full of stuff in the vicinity...this is actually pretty good. Only one used tampon and one broken bottle (and that was in the drain, where I was using a shovel).
The source dam (almost a ring around the source) was getting pretty thin, mostly due to cow trampling, so I hauled rocks and mud and sand to reinforce it and reestablish the overflow where it won't erode badly. Further filled in the north side mud-moat...about half of it now stays dry and solid (another couple inches will bring it up to the level of the surrounding land), the other half will likely remain a bit moist till it is filled in similarly, but at least it shouldn't return to boot sucking mud. The west side dips into the slope so there are no containment issues, but eventual establishment of a rock edging will tend to prevent further cow damage. The south side, current overflow location, is fairly sturdy and the mud moat is at least away from the hot tub. The east side (downhill side) is now heavily reinforced with large rocks and grass root reinforced soil and mud which should consolidate nicely and eventually become grassy and stable. I also covered it with lots of little rocks to prevent cow step.
Bit by bit I am raising the retaining wall around the south side of the surround so that the outside can be filled in to match the surrounding terrain and become grassy and provide a place for clothes and stuff. The drain side (east) could still use some concrete work to prevent erosion and wall slumping. Grass is starting to establish against the north east corner of the tub, would be nice for this to eventually be a clean grassy spot separating the tub from the sandy outwash from the uphill parking area and road. I planted some (large) rocks around the northwest corner of the tub and surround, perhaps this will encourage people to not drive right up to the tub and build fire rings immediately next to it (probably an entirely vain hope).
Later projects will probably involve moving sand from the outflow area to fill in depressions here and there, and building up the surround on the northwest corner to keep it from being inundated with sand.
The weather was almost exactly as predicted, although the thundershowers mostly petered out once they blew off the Sierra crest. Only a few scattered clouds over Long Valley. There has been enough spring rain that the area is fairly green, although not enough early to really get the wildflowers going.
Snow conditions in the Sierra are generally less than last year (according to PCT hikers taking a break). From Tioga Pass, it appears that below 11K it is pretty clear.
Shepherd's Tub Maintenance / Robert Parks / email@example.com /
revised Jun '04